Rand Paul is betting on the hope that people have not lost hope in change. Announcing his candidacy for the presidency Tuesday, the first-term senator outlined an agenda for change far more revolutionary than then-Sen. Barack Obama did in the 2008 race, but one that is based on an identical strategy. Paul promises to create a grassroots movement so big and powerful that it will swamp Washington and reconfigure it. “Washington is horribly broken. I fear it cannot be fixed from within,” Paul said in Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday. “We, the people, must rise up and demand action. Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so.”
The usual question a Republican candidate poses to himself is rigged: Can I be better than the dismal incumbent Barack Obama? But Paul is basing his candidacy on the idea that he can best the president at something Obama was already pretty good at. Even Obama’s critics say he was pretty good at rallying the public. Remember those gargantuan rallies and crowds of 2008? Barack Obama is the first president in more than five decades to win at least 51 percent of the national popular vote twice.
Obama could not translate his success at building a movement into success at building a sustainable governing force. On gun control measures for example, where polls showed he had the support of 90 percent of the country for items like background checks, he couldn’t get Congress to budge.